My colleague Dan Silver crunches the numbers and finds that while Nashville may be at the top of the commercial music pyramid, it lags on genre diversity.
Nashville takes fifth place in terms of popularity of its acts, according to Silver's analysis of MySpace fans, behind L.A., Manhattan, Chicago, and Atlanta, and just ahead of Brooklyn. It falls to 25th in terms of total (MySpace) acts behind Portland, Austin, and Miami, not to mention leaders like L.A., Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Chicago.
Nashville also lags in the diversity of its music mix, according to Silver. Not surprisingly, it's way out in front on country with 1,800 (MySpace) bands with five times as many as second-place San Antonio. Nashville also makes the top 20 for Christian music, acoustic, pop, rock, folk, jazz, and indie.
Silver provides further evidence of what he dubs Nashville's "intensive rather than extensive" music profile by ranking Nashville alongside L.A., NY, Chicago, Atlanta, and comparably sized Portland on MySpace's "bands with fans" metric (see table below).
Still, Nashville's music scene remains highly focused on the best-selling and most commercial of genres - pop (fourth), rock (sixth), and punk (sixth) as well as country (first), Christian (first) and folk (second) - compare to its 33rd place finish in Afrobeat and 151st place in death metal - as Silver's data show.
Nashville is the national leader in Country and Christian music, and has bands with the top 10 most fans in folk, acoustic, acapella, pop, rock, punk, jazz, and alternative. This is very impressive indeed; Nashville is for sure a hit maker. But, once again, note the steep drop off. The other top 5 "bands with fans" cities - NY, L.A., Chicago, ATL -- have high fan rankings across all the genres, with averages of 3, 7, 6, and 18. Nashville plunges to 40. Portland, by contrast, which ranks #19 overall on this metric (14 lower than Nashville), has an average fan rank across genres that is 14 higher than Nashville's.
So yes, Nashville is more than country music. But, ranked in terms of the sheer cosmopolitan multiplicity of the genres its bands produce and circulate, Nashville is not quite New York City. Or, for that matter, Portland.